Written by Clara Chu
As readers of crime news reports, we often see different claims made by various parties such as the government authorities, professionals and expertise of the field, academic researchers, offenders and even the victims. Their claims may be based on various standpoints supported by statistical reports, empirical data or personal experience. We will explore how various claims made in relation to sextortion on newspapers may affect the portrayal of the issue to the audience.
Claim-makers identified in Sextortion crime news
|Date in 2017||News title||Name of newspaper|
|24 October||男子勒索妓女囚10月 報告指悔意流於表面||Oriental Daily|
|12 October||嫖客求妓女 梅開二度 卻只得一度 稱有祼照迫退款 勒索罪成||HK01|
|7 October||家計會：3%青年曾祼聊 有女生遭裸照要脅不准分手||Ming Pao|
|29 September||網上勒索案 裸聊佔七成||Tai Kung Pao|
|26 July||2017年上半年治安情況繼續改善||Hong Kong Government News|
|13 June||調查：逾半男生 看過色情物品||The Headline Daily|
From June to November 2017, 15 news reports were found reporting crimes of sextortion in Hong Kong of which 6 reports listed in the table above consisted of some claims made by 3 different groups of claim-makers who held distinctive viewpoints towards the crime issue. They are namely:
1) The Hong Kong Police Force;
2) The Court Judge; and
3) Experts in Family Planning Association and Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG).
The Hong Kong Police Force
Source: Hong Kong Government News, Tai Kung Pao
The Hong Kong Police Force as a major representative of law enforcement agency, they primarily advocated various means of preventive measures to stay alert in online friends-making. They also stressed that sextortion is serious crime which warrant lengthy imprisonment once convicted with a view to impose deterrence effect to potential offenders.
The Court Judge
嫖客求妓女「梅開二度」卻只得一度 稱有裸照迫退款 勒索罪成. Retrieved from HK01 (12 October 2017)
According to a news report on court news (HK01, 2017), the viewpoint of the court judge was obvious that retribution was the only way to attribute the responsibility of the offender in upholding law and justice. His claim could be substantiated and supported by the power given by the Judiciary and the respect and trust from the public which most people believed that the judge would act impartially.
The Family Planning Association & HKFYG
Source: Ming Pao News (2017)
In the past 6 months, only one circumstance was found with experts commenting on the sextortion crime issue – the announcement of a research on youth. In that particular research, it was conducted by the Family Planning Association on adolescence Internet usage which found 3% of the youth had tried online naked chat. It is particularly interesting that although only such a small number of teenagers had engaged online naked chat, the association still claimed that there may be some underlying linkage and potential problems for the increasing number of youngsters to have got in touch with pornographic materials on the Internet. And because of the vulnerability of children who may be easily affected by peers, such finding may then correlate implications that situation might deteriorate and lead to sextortion if it was not handled carefully by the government. As a result, such small number of unfavourable situation still attract concerns from the organization and subsequently claims have been made on the demand for local sex education reforms by diverse experts ranging from sex therapist to expert in HKFYG.
The Dominant Claim-maker owns the issue
Dominant claim-maker is the party who could direct public policy (Jewkes, 2011). From the data collected in the recent months, it is believed that the court judge was the dominant claim-maker in the issue. He claimed that offender should face more severe punishment due to seriousness of the offence he committed. The court judge could embrace what he claimed and had the authority to impose harsh sentence, i.e. 10 months imprisonment, to the offender immediately. As for the experts’ claims from the Family Planning Association, their claims have not been recognized by the government yet since none policy change was observed on youth sex education syllabus for the time being. It may take more time for the organization or the government to be convinced that such research finding is relevant to sex education policy before a change could be accepted.
Jewkes, Y. (2011). The construction of crime news. Media and Crime, 39-71.
Oriental Daily (2017, October 24). 男子勒索妓女囚10月 報告指悔意流於表面. Available from: http://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/news/20171024/bkn-20171024130509368-1024_00822_001.html
梁芷君 (2017, October 12). 嫖客求妓女 梅開二度 卻只得一度 稱有祼照迫退款 勒索罪成. HK01. Available from: https://www.hk01.com/%E6%B8%AF%E8%81%9E/125396/%E5%AB%96%E5%AE%A2%E6%B1%82%E5%A6%93%E5%A5%B3-%E6%A2%85%E9%96%8B%E4%BA%8C%E5%BA%A6-%E5%8D%BB%E5%8F%AA%E5%BE%97%E4%B8%80%E5%BA%A6-%E7%A8%B1%E6%9C%89%E8%A3%B8%E7%85%A7%E8%BF%AB%E9%80%80%E6%AC%BE-%E5%8B%92%E7%B4%A2%E7%BD%AA%E6%88%90
Ming Pao News (2017, October 7). 家計會：3%青年曾祼聊 有女生遭裸照要脅不准分手. Available from: https://news.mingpao.com/ins/instantnews/web_tc/article/20171007/s00001/1507359860024
Tai Kung Pao (2017, September 29). 網上勒索案 裸聊佔七成. Available from: http://news.takungpao.com.hk/paper/q/2017/0929/3498496.html